Tonight at a “special time” of 9:30 p.m. ET, Private Eyes returns to Global for a fifth season. The surprise to everyone, including star, director and executive producer Jason Priestley, is that it is also the final season.
I spoke with Priestley Wednesday for an upcoming episode of brioux.tv: the podcast. Look for him to talk about Private Eyes, his upcoming documentary on evil Leafs legend Harold Ballard and how 90210 mentor Aaron Spelling gave him his first directing break on the next podcast episode, schedule for Monday.
I’ve seen tonight’s Private Eyes episode (directed by Priestley) and the one after that and they are as fun and action-packed as usual, with private investigators Matt Shade and Cindy Sampson’s Angie Everett back after last season’s cliffhanger ending. That’s when Everett took a bullet for the team, literally. The series resumes at the hospital. Does she recover?
Hey, this isn’t The Sopranos.
Which is part of the general appeal of Private Eyes. It is a fun, light-hearted, will-they or won’t they romp. The guest stars, including Enrico Colantoni, Tony Nappo, JUNO-nominated singer-songwriter Royal Wood and Ennis Esmer this season, are terrific. The series is shot in Toronto and shows the city to great effect, right down to the subways and street cars and downtown condo towers. There’s a great adventure as the duo scamble through Ontario Place in the season’s second new episiode.
Everything about the series is easy on the eyes, one reason last season was the highest-rated Canadian returning series of 2020/2021 in the key A18-49 and A25-54 demos. It routinely draws a million or more viewers, remarkable over a five-year span where the million-mark has shrunk to about half that for many other Canadian-made scripted shows.
That’s quite an accomplishment considering Global has always treated this series like a free space in Bingo. It bounces on and off the schedule whenever some pricey import crashes and burns. Over the five seasons, it has aired on Sundays one month and Tuesdays the next. Even this week, the season premiere is tonight on a Wednesday before the series moves to Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET starting July 15.
Priestley, as he told me today, was looking forward to more adventures before Corus pulled the plug on future episodes after this final, truncated, eight-episode season. The reduced order, apparently, had more to do with shooting through COVID than any other factors. The worst of it was the cast and crew had no idea that they were working on the last of Private Eyes. The series will end on another cliffhanger, and Priestley says it will be interesting to see how fans will be with that.
Wednesday was also the day that nominations were announced for the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards. I looked for the names Priestley, Sampson and Private Eyes but did not see them among the eleventy-million-billion nominations. There’s nothing more Canadian than getting overlooked at award time because your series is popular coast-to-coast. Just ask The Royal Canadian Air Farce.
Historically, to be fair, light-hearted dramas have never been award magnets. The bigger prize for Priestley and company is knowing your show is popular at home and sells in 186 different territories arouund the world.
Still, this series would last ten seasons at least on a US network, where a known, winning brand would be prized for cutting through the clutter on a broadcast spectrum that keeps getting squeezed by streamers. Somebody should send a couple of private investigators over to Global to look into this.